Dream Study Discussion Section -
Typical Dreams Questionnaire (TDQ)
Being chased (but not attacked) and falling turning out to be the first and second highest endorsed TDQ themes (by a wide margin), respectively, is in perfect agreement to the Nielsen, et al. (2003) Canadian university students’ results for Earliest Recalled items. In both the current study and for the Canadian students, flying or soaring through the air is the third most frequently endorsed Earliest theme, and “trying again and again to do something” is in the top five responses.
The current study’s TDQ is distinguished from previous research in that its theme options order was randomly presented to each participant. In the past, every time the TDQ was filled out, “Being chased or pursued, but not physically attacked” was the first theme option on the choices list, and this was also the predominant endorsed theme. By randomizing the theme choices, prior TDQ results have now been truly validated.
In the current study, the Most Often experienced TDQ themes were, in descending frequency: falling, being chased (not injured), trying again and again to do something, sexual experiences, flying, and losing teeth. School/teachers/studying is not ranked until the seventh Most Often position, less than half as frequent a dream theme as is falling. Sexual experiences, at fourth place, might be expected to score big in this sample population, but surely if dream content was a pure continuation of waking concerns, we would be surprised not to see school dreams as more readily endorsed than themes of falling, being chased, and flying.
The largest difference between the Japanese population in Griffith, Miyagi, and Tago’s 1958 TDQ study and in the 2003 TDQ study (Nielsen, et al.) was in females’ endorsements for “sexual experiences” in Ever Experienced themes. This trend toward more females choosing this option was continued into the current study, wherein sexual experiences even trumped being chased for dream themes Ever Experienced across the life-span, and this was true for both females and males. Overall, agreement in endorsements for TDQ items was consistently high between the sexes.
Not only were TDQ agreements high for Most Often, Earliest, and Ever Experienced themes between male and female participants, so were peripheral questions. Even though there were nearly seven times as many females as males, both sex groups reported within half a percent of each other in having ever told anyone about their first dream (~63%), and within two percent of one another when reporting that their first recalled dream was recurring (~55%). With three-quarters of all participants claiming that the first dream they could recall occurred at age 9 or earlier, and more than one-third of all first dreams never being talked about prior to the Dreams Survey, it appears that these dreams leave a strong imprint on conscious memory. Monthly dream frequencies were also similar for men and women, and both reported few monthly nightmares (although males had half as many as did women).